The year 2012 has seen many highs and lows for Tottenham. It is said that a week is a long time in football and the HotspurHQ review of 2012 will reflect the many changes that have occurred over the past twelve months for the White Hart Lane club. Alan and I have combined to review the past year which has seen a change of manager, disappointment in the FA Cup semi-final, dejection at two heavy defeats at The Emirates but enjoyed success with some outstanding football and wonderful goals which are the very essence of Tottenham Hotspur.
Highlight of 2012
Alan: It has to be the victory over Man United. I actually cried tears of joy and relief. I think it’s because I nearly didn’t survive to see it, along with the fact that I had seen us come so close down the years
Logan: Having waited since December, 1989 for a win at Old Trafford, the 3 – 2 victory in late September must be the highlight of the past twelve months. We have seen Spurs go a head at Old Trafford but so often, a lack of belief or a refereeing decision has seen them fall short so the very manner of the 2012 victory over Manchester United makes it a highlight. An outstanding first half performance where the Tottenham attacking play had the United defence in disarray, followed by a second half of total commitment and endeavour to hold out as United made their expected recovery. The belief of the Spurs players to come out and score after United’s early goal after the interval showed how much the team had grown in stature.
Greatest Disappointment of 2012
Alan: Three events combining to form one massive disaster. Arsenal pipping us to 3rd place, combined with Chelsea winning the Champions League and worst of all, our own post-Christmas collapse which put us in the position to blow it all in the first place.
Logan: Three heavy defeats to Arsenal and Chelsea were the biggest disappointment at a time when Spurs were aspiring to gatecrash the top four. Missing out on the Champions League, in unfortunate circumstances, was, in part, a result of the first 5 – 2 defeat to Arsenal.
Alan: Man Utd 2 Tottenham Hotspur 3.
Logan: The win at Old Trafford was outstanding but the best team performance for style and flair was probably the 5 – 0 home win over Newcastle United. At the time it looked as if Spurs could mount a serious title challenge but sadly that quickly disappeared. Emmanuel Adebayor’s display that night was first class – his movement and passing destroyed Newcastle.
Alan: Moussa Dembele pips Gareth Bale for me, believe it or not. If he hadn’t been such a fantastic replacement for Modric, we would be nowhere. If he had been fit all season, we would probably be top.
Logan: Gareth Bale has been the player to whom Spurs have turned for inspiration. He has the ability to cause havoc in the best of defences. His pace and powerful runs were the spark which caused constant turmoil to the United defenders at Old Trafford, allowing Spurs to profit. This season he has already scored 10 goals in the League and when he was missing, Spurs lacked a player to put pressure on defenders and unsettle their defensive organisation.
Most memorable moment
Alan: A. The Fabrice Muamba incident. It transcended football. The whole crowd pulled together to will him to survive. So did the millions watching on TV. Then everyone praying for him throughout his coma, religious or not. It was like taking part in a miracle and made me proud to be a Tottenham supporter. B. Harry winning his court case. C. Harry’s sacking. D. The Man United result.
Logan: The relief at 7.22:30pm on Saturday, 29th September when the final whistle was blown at Old Trafford and Tottenham had held out for their first win since 1989. The expression of joy from the players, coaching staff and the fans was incredible, yet understandable after such a long wait for a win over United.
Best young player
Alan: Danny Rose – really developing well in a challenging situation at Sunderland. Could just as easily have chosen Jake Livermore.
Logan: The year started exceptionally for Kyle Walker but this season has struggled to maintain the high level of performance displayed last season. Steven Caulker has followed a similar path into the first team as Walker having been out on loan for the past three seasons. Since coming into the team he has shown a level of maturity not often seen in a 20 year old. His performances have shown great composure and he has coped with numerous central defensive partners this season. It’s great to see a young player progress from the Academy to the Premier League and be there on the strength of his performances and not simply because of injuries. He scored on his England debut and hopefully he will have a long career with Spurs.
Best signing in 2012.Alan: Moussa Dembeleas explained in the previous question about the Best signing.
Logan: Jan Vertonghen has stepped into a Tottenham defence which can no longer call upon Ledley King. Vertonghen has been outstanding as a central defender and at left back. He is commanding, cool under pressure and his ability to play the ball out of defence is a great asset to the team. He has been an exceptional signing and could well become the player around whom the Spurs defence is built and most pleasing from a Spurs’ perspective, even with all the turmoil during the summer, he insisted that he wanted to come to Tottenham. He must surely become a future Tottenham captain.
Best Spurs’ Goal of 2012.
Alan: That’s harder than you might think when I haven’t got them in front of me to review. I can see in my mind’s eye Jermain Defoe cutting in from the right touchline and unleashing a shot which beat the goalie on his near post from about 20 yards. Sandro’s 30-yarder against Fulham – outside of the foot with a touch of swerve, bit of a daisy cutter. Andros Townsend got a good one against Carlisle in the Capital One Cup – again a long shot from 20yds plus. Gareth Bale’s free kick against Liverpool – up and over the wall, dipped right down just inside the post. But, perhaps, if I choose just one, because of the significance of the game and the flowing move, Gareth Bale’s goal against Manchester United.
Logan: You did better than me in trying to recall the year’s goals. I went for the one you couldn’t place. It was the opener against West Ham United and broke the deadlock minutes before half-time. A great individual goal from Defoe after Kyle Walker had played a lovely pass to him out on the right. After that it was all Defoe.
Your final thoughts on Harry Redknapp at WHL.
Alan: I wrote this on 20 May 2012:
“I can’t shake off the feeling we are at the end of what has, for Spurs been a golden era. I just hope it’s not the case. The Harry Redknapp era has been just that until Drogba’s last minute penalty went in. Chelsea’s last gasp penalty winner in the European Cup last night could cost us as much as relegation. Coming 4th is an amazing achievement by Spurs. We all would have bitten your hand off for that at the start of the season. Apart from this ridiculous combination of circumstances it would have given us European Championship football next season. In one sense Harry and the team met our targets and if we are honest, it has been another year where we over achieved. It’s just that we nearly over achieved by so much more. Before the melt down after Christmas even winning the league looked an outside possibility.
Under Harry it was an exciting pleasure to have been involved right up to the last second of the last match of the season. My fellow Spurs fans don’t need long memories to recall how miserable it feels for your season to be pretty much over by Christmas and worrying about possible relegation right into April.
I am normally an optimist but it was always going to be a big problem to be able to pay for a new stadium, and be able to afford enough good players to maintain Premier League status. To do it without Champions League income will be almost impossible.”
Logan: Harry Redknapp’s time with Spurs came to an unfortunate econclusion. From the time that the England manager’s position became vacant, Redknapp appeared to have lost the drive and desire for Tottenham. As Spurs’ season slumped dramatically, Redknapp and his host of coaches were unable to turn things around, resulting in Spurs missing out on the Champions League. In this period his comments and attitude had alienated may Spurs fans and while, if he had stayed, he would probably have Spurs in an equally strong position as they are currently, it was time for him to go.
Your initial thoughts on appointment of AVB.
Alan: I wrote this on 12 August 2012:
“Brave decision by Daniel Levy to choose AVB. Let’s hope we haven’t shot ourselves in the foot again. Despite his problems at Chelsea, AVB may well prove himself to be one of the brightest young managerial prospects. We have to hope so.”
Logan: The candidates suggested as possible Tottenham managers were not inspiring, all had positives and negatives on their CVs. At the time I had my reservations about Andre Villas-Boas in light of his difficulties at Chelsea. There was, however, something about his success at Porto that drew me towards him and from his first introduction as Tottenham manager, he has had a feel for the club and a desire to prove the doubters wrong by bringing success to Spurs.
AVB – 6 months on
Alan: As much as we could reasonably hope for. Results speak for themselves. Equal third place on points on Christmas Day but one loss would drop us several places, it’s so tight. Seems overly cautious perhaps but this has generally worked to preserve points. We have conceded too many late goals though, which I think results from this approach. Trying to shut up shop when we are 1 up, instead of going for a win. Not sure whether he reacts positively enough when Plan A’s not working. We’ll see again today. I am typing this at half time in the Aston Villa game. Like so many games this season, we have dominated the 1st half – 80% possession, a hatful of chances and nothing to show for it. In several matches this season, we have run out of steam and lost or drawn games like this. Let’s see…He handles press conferences well.
Logan: Andre Villas-Boas has conducted himself with great dignity during the past six months in the face of success, defeat and his detractors. He has made tough calls on players and mostly got them right while coping with injuries and not getting the players he’d hoped for in the summer transfer window. He appears to have the backing of the players who have responded positively to his methods. His reaction on the touchline to Spurs’ goals is that of a ‘fan’ which is a change from the impassive approach of Redknapp in his latter months. I think that AVB has done well and hope that he can build on that in the future.
What do Spurs need in January, 2013 transfer window?
Alan: Quality cover for Dembele and Parker. Joe Cole? David Beckham would be the cherry on the icing on top of the cake for me.
Logan: Two priorities for January – a creative midfield player, Joao Moutinho would be great and a striker who can score goals. Spurs have been fortunate that Jermain Defoe has maintained his goal scoring form and avoided injury this season.
How will the rest of season go for Spurs? – PL/FAC/EL
Alan: Premier League: I have an awful feeling we are going to miss out on Champions League qualification again. I wish it didn’t carry so much financial importance governing the ability to sign the best players. I think only winners should qualify for the Champions League. Winners of the Champions League itself, winners of the Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup and Europa League. Be honest, a team that comes third or fourth is not a team of Champions, it’s a team of nearly men.
FA Cup: I would love to win the FA Cup again. It’s been too long…
Europa League: Whisper it but I think we might win the Europa League, although Lyon and Inter will be massive hurdles.
Logan: Premier League: 4th – I can’t see Spurs getting into the top three but would hope that they have sufficient ability to ensure they finish above Arsenal and the other teams battling it out for that final Champions League place.
FA Cup: With a favourable draw, I would expect Spurs to be strong contenders for the Cup. On their day, they could beat any team but there is always that element of luck in Cup competitions. It’s 22 years since Gary Mabbutt lifted the Cup so a Totenham FA Cup win is long overdue. Here’s hoping.
Europa League: I’ve been impressed that Villas-Boas regards the Europa League as a competition worth winning and to do that would be fantastic but it’s a difficult competition to win and Spurs haven’t been given an easy task in the knock-out stages. I don’t think they’ll win it although I would love to be proved wrong and I want them to progress as far as possible in the coming months.
Any other thoughts.
Alan: I love football and I love Spurs. Chelsea’s Champions League success and Manchester City’s remarkable last minute Premiership triumph were impressive returns for the billionaires’ business investments and yet the genuine major sporting achievements were in other sports this year. The Olympics and Paralympics were marvellous. Particularly the way the contenders handled themselves and behaved in public view. The Tour de France, the Ryder Cup, The US Open Tennis, the rise and fall and rise again of the England cricket team (with the exception of Kevin Petersen’s behaviour). What an example to set footballers and football fans alike. Let’s hope they will take it all on board and adopt the Olympian principles in 2013. Although if Sir Alex Ferguson’s return to petulant behaviour on the touchline yesterday is anything to go by, don’t hold your breath. If that’s how he carries on when they are 7 points clear, what can we expect if he starts to lose?
Logan: Football’s image has taken a terrible battering in the past twelve months both nationally and internationally – the prolonged John Terry issue, Chelsea’s allegations against Mark Clattenberg, the England Under-21s in Serbia, the attack on Spurs fans in Rome. The football authorities fail to take a strong stand on these and other matters and until they do, football will continue it’s downward spiral. The FA, UEFA and FIFA need to take strong and meaningful action to punish players, clubs, supporters and countries where the name of football is being brought into disrepute.
Alan’s Pundit of the Year Award 2012:Well, I think so. How about you? What a pleasant surprise. I wasn’t keen when I first heard that Gary Neville was going to be the new Sky Sports pundit this season. As a player, he appeared to be a bit of a barrack room lawyer and periodically seemed to be quoted in the press holding forth on issues that we probably didn’t need to hear his views on. The last thing I needed was to be lectured from my TV by an ex Manchester United player. How wrong could I be? He hit the ground running. His analysis of games using the touch screen technology has been superb. His comments have been both perceptive and articulate.
He has explained set ups and identified weaknesses and strengths in teams, so that I feel that I am actually learning something, even after 50 years of observing matches myself. His analysis of Stoke’s goal against West Ham was very good. It was a variation of the old Teddy Sheringham corner that Spurs used repeatedly. His identification of Tottenham’s weakness down the left against Manchester City and Arsenal and Gareth Bale’s potential for greatness was equally perceptive. This is all done with an admirable lack of bias either towards Manchester United or his brother. He has shown a great sense of humour, (witness his comments about Phil Neville’s uncharacteristic dive in a recent league game) and been quite self-deprecating considering his massive success and the excellent track record he had as a player.
With the massive amount of time dedicated to live TV coverage and programmes starting up to an hour before kick- off, there is a lot of dead time filled by pundits in discussion with a presenter. So many of them, mostly ex-players and managers repeat the blindingly obvious in an inarticulate fashion using sentences full of clichés. Two good results on the trot and we are being told how a team is favourite for 4th spot at the end of the season. Two losses later, we’re being told by the same pundit how the same team has real problems and have not quite got what it takes. I have witnessed that with comments about Tottenham, Newcastle and Arsenal already this season. It’s quite quaint in some ways and we have all got used to it. But that’s not for Mr. Neville. For example, even after QPR’s defeat to Southampton, he was stating he believed they would stay up if they kept Mark Hughes and then explained why he thought so. He has single-handedly raised the bar for punditry and must be a shoe-in for whatever awards are floating around for that category.
Thank God the make-up artists at Sky are at last starting to get his haircut right. He clearly has a high forehead and a receding hairline. In the early days they were making a ham-fisted attempt at a comb over which was really obvious and looked so much like a wig, it was distracting. It was only when my wife pointed it out that I noticed but once I did I could not take my eye off it. For the next month, each time we tuned in it was “Let’s get the hair discussion out of the way first, then shut up and pay attention”. Gary, it’s fine since they cut it a bit shorter. For God’s sake, get them to leave it that way!
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